Big Data Can Cure Big Illness
The third industrial revolution is happening right now. Silicon is the new steel, and data is the new oil. Now the companies that build Big Data ecosystems are about to reap the rewards.
That is the finding of an exhaustive new research report from Morgan Stanley. The 109-page tome traces industrial development through the ages — from the dirty days of coal to today’s pristine data centers.
While several sectors such as media, online retail and hospitality have already moved to the new era of data and digitization with great success, the analysts conclude the U.S. economy is still only 27% digital. They expect that metric will reach 43% in ten years, and significant rewards will flow to companies that bring the data revolution to little-trafficked sectors like pharmaceuticals.
For example, Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development found the average cost of a new drug in 2013 was almost $1.4 billion. Of that, a material component was the result of high failure rates for drugs tested in human subjects. The appeal of Big Data is better human profiling and drug characterization to reduce attrition. Morgan Stanley analysts believe these cost savings could be $20 billion per year in the U.S. alone, or 5% of the $400 billion pharma market.
And that is just the start. BCC Research of Wellesley, Mass., expects the global market for healthcare analytics to triple to $16.9 billion by 2020.
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Alphabet (GOOGL) began the transition to a holding company two years ago to allow its disparate subsidiaries to shine on their own accord. Its DeepMind, Calico and Verily units are now focused on all parts of the healthcare value chain.
DeepMind, the artificially intelligent brain best known for defeating a world champion Go player, is working with U.K. hospitals to help physicians diagnose and treat illnesses better. Calico is a standalone, data-driven pharmaceutical company working on longevity. Verily is leveraging its computing and engineering chops to help big pharma firms do more effective research. Last week it formed a joint venture with French drug company Sanofi for diabetes research. This follows similar collaborations with British drug maker GlaxoSmithKline and Swiss pharma giant Novartis.
The big prices of small pills can be cut down to size by properly analyzing Big Data.
IBM (IBM) has taken a slightly different route. In 2013 it broke out its artificial intelligence Watson computing platform to tackle healthcare through data analytics. The result has been Watson Health.
Because the unrestricted health-data market is fragmented and still relatively young, given longstanding industry silos, IBM has been an aggressive consolidator. In 2015, it bought Merge Health for $1 billion to bolster its medical imaging capabilities. This year, it bought Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion.
Watson Health General Manager Deborah Disanzo told Bloomberg: "The strategy of IBM is to bring this data together and democratize it so that both IBM and our ecosystem of partners can build health solutions on top of it."
And that is the key. Big Data will change healthcare in fundamental ways. Alphabet and IBM are taking the lead, building vibrant ecosystems around their Big Data collection and analytic tools.
Splunk (SPLK) will be a major player, too. The company produces web-interface software that’s designed to search, monitor and analyze the Big Data generated by machines.
All three companies will benefit handsomely from the growing market.
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